by Greg Melita
Competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest ways to
increase your technique in the art.
Constantly testing your skills in a live environment against opponents
of different size and skill only increases your technique threshold.
Unfortunately, most first-time Jiu Jitsu practitioners
have the wrong mindset or outlook on BJJ competition.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art of empiricism.
Meaning, it is trained in realistic feedback scenarios with a resisting, live opponent.
This sort of training lends itself well to separating what works and what doesn't.
Having the right mindset when competing for the first time is so important and can directly influence your motivation to compete in the future.
I like to tell students competing for the first time to think of it as a competitive open mat. It is a chance to gain more mat time against people you've never rolled with before at your age bracket, weight, and belt level.
Of course you want to win and be aggressive, so go for it,
but that doesn't mean you have to put immense pressure on yourself.
Often times, people are very overwhelmed by the pressure of competition.
They say they don't want to embarrass the school, they don't want to get hurt, or they think they are not good enough to compete!
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
NEWSFLASH: you get better by competing!
Being "under pressure" forces your technique to be razor sharp.
2 things happen to MOST competitors when competing for the first time:
1. Forgetting to breathe
2. Resisting with force
The combination of the two is not favorable for competition.
Both are the result of nerves and anxiety that you aren't used to controlling.
Tensing up in addition to freezing and holding your breath is only going to tire you out, and tire you out quickly.
They key point to understand is that you're NOT going to completely "avoid" them simply because you're reading them in this article.
It's something you have to experience and learn from in order to get better and
realize WHY technique is KING.
Having said that, here are a couple tips for your first competition:
Be excited to display your technique.
Fight your opponent's techniques, not the opponent himself.
THINK OF YOUR FIRST COMPETITION AS ESTABLISHING A BASELINE FOR WHERE YOU STAND AS A JIU JITSU PRACTITIONER.
In simple terms, think of it as every burst of energy you expend requires a breath.
This will keep you in the mindset of breathing consistently.
The only thing in question from there is your conditioning and how much you've trained your body in the appropriate energy pathways for Jiu Jitsu (Glycolytic and Oxidative).
RESISTING WITH FORCE
Getting out of the habit of resisting with force comes with mat time and practice. Knowing when to be tight and when to be loose and relaxed comes with experience.
Improving your technique through competition and mat time is the answer.
GOOD BREATHING WILL ALSO HELP YOU NOT BE AS TENSE.
If you've ever rolled with a high level practitioner lighter than yourself,
you know that they can instantly go from being fluid to feeling like they weigh 500 pounds!
Enjoy the journey 🤙🏻🥋